Candidates seeking a career change and recent graduates should be applying to entry-level positions, but they both run into the same problem when they do. Most “entry-level” jobs require some years of beginner experience in the industry.
This barrier can make applying to entry-level jobs a frustrating and discouraging experience. If you are trying to break into a field but don’t feel like you have the needed expertise, this post is for you.
Here are some actionable tips to help you overcome the catch-22 and jumpstart your career:
Start with the Basics
Candidates who want to break into a career field where they lack experience need to perfect their strategy and presentation well-beyond the experienced candidate applying for the same job. The Goodwin Recruiting Blog offers a wealth of tips, tricks, and advice for candidates. Resume Checklist for the New Job Market and Understanding the 7 Finer Points of Job Hunting also address these issues.
Conduct Research on the Industry You’re Entering
With the help of online resources, you can immediately begin to immerse yourself in your desired field. Actively educating yourself on your industry’s news, career paths, and nuances will help you appear more knowledgeable and professional on job applications and interviews.
You can try some online resources: YouTube videos, blogs, TED Talks, and podcasts created by industry professionals.
Evaluate Your Transferable Skills
Even if you don’t have years of experience under your belt, you can show off the transferable skills that you DO have. You are interested in this new field or career choice for a reason—what is it? Find the ways your education, previous work, or personal strengths have set you up to work in your new field of choice.
While you may not have a robust resume within that particular field, make sure you highlight any transferable skills and experiences as they relate to where you are trying to go. You may even want to build a presentation to show that you’ve done your legwork and you are serious about this field.
There are several media choices to help with your presentation but consider using an online option that you can hyperlink into your resume and cover letter. An emailed application can have attachments, but an online application usually limits the uploads to a resume or possibly a resume and cover letter. An online portfolio, pitch deck, or personal website are excellent ways to show off your capabilities.
- A personal website or portfolio are tools you can use to visually present yourself and your capabilities in a more holistic manner that can offer a clearer understanding of who you are and what you offer. You can populate each with projects from college, your writing, and non-published work. Even if the work is for a fake brand, it will show that you take the initiative because you’re excited to grow your career.
- A pitch deck is a slide presentation using PowerPoint, Keynote, or Slides as a presentation to seek business funding or sales. I recommend Google Slides because it’s free and offers a URL share link that you can hyperlink in your resume and cover letter. As a job-hunting tool, you can spin the idea of a pitch deck to your purpose. Your pitch deck could take the form of competitive analysis, or it could suggest areas of improvement for the department you’re interested in joining. A thoughtfully created deck has the potential to make you a memorable candidate and put you on the company’s radar. However, take note that since this will take a bit of time and research on your part, you’ll want to be selective about which companies you use a pitch deck.
Since much of the professional world has gone remote, in-person networking may no longer be feasible. Thankfully, there are many online tools and virtual events you can attend to connect with professionals. Meetup can be another great resource, allowing you to connect with small business owners looking to hire.
Use Social Media to Market Yourself
Going hand-in-hand with networking is maintaining your social media presence. Notably, you’ll want to be active on LinkedIn by ensuring your profile is up to date and actively connecting with companies that interest you. You should also set up a LinkedIn job search that will alert you about new job posts. Make sure to post often, share your work, and express passion for the targeted industry. You may find that hiring managers are very open to connecting online and setting up informational interviews.
According to a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service, 60% of hiring managers consider volunteering a valuable asset while making recruitment decisions. Volunteering experience can help you build a stronger resume by showing you’re a hard worker who cares about giving back. While volunteering your time at food banks, hospitals, and animal shelters have traditionally been good options, the pandemic has interfered with these in-person activities. However, there are many virtual volunteering options to explore, such as phone banking or tutoring over Zoom. You can also help out a nonprofit with its social media, data entry, or research efforts.
Take Online Courses
You can always gain some of those needed skills by seeking out online courses. For example, you can take a free or affordable course to learn about the software used in your industry. Once completing an online course, you may even get a free certification to display on your website, portfolio, pitch deck, or LinkedIn profile.
Beyond acquiring needed skills, all candidates need to be prepared to talk about what they did during pandemic downtime, and it can’t only be, “I watched every available Netflix movie.”
Become a Goodwin Recruiter
If you are a successful professional in your industry and are looking for options beyond the usual operational roles, you might consider becoming a recruiter with Goodwin Recruiting, who has been recognized by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms” in 2020.